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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Millions in Federal Money for Culvert Fixes in Alaska

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023   

Fish passage is set to improve in the Northwest with an investment from Congress's bipartisan infrastructure law.

The Biden administration has announced its first round of grants totaling $196 million to fix or remove culverts across the country. Culverts channel water under structures such as roadways, but can be barriers to fish who use streams and rivers.

Michael O'Casey, deputy director of the Pacific Northwest region for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said culverts are especially hard for young salmon and other species to pass.

"This is really an incredible opportunity to improve passage and ecological connectivity of rivers and streams here in the Northwest and across the country," O'Casey emphasized.

Alaska will receive more than $44 million for 45 projects in the state, second only to Washington state's 46 projects. Investments for fish passage in the infrastructure law total $2 billion nationally, and will be allocated to tribal, state and local governments over the next five years.

Christy Plumer, chief conservation officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said many culverts were designed only for temporary use, and called for an infrastructure improvement paradigm shift.

"When we have things like increasing storm events from a changing climate, we really wanted to see a dedicated source of funding for replacement of these culvert infrastructure and allowing more fish passage," Plumer stressed.

Plumer noted the projects will also provide jobs. According to a 2021 report from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the so-called "restoration economy" creates more than 17 jobs for every one million dollars invested.

"Often rather than a 10- or 20-year life span for these projects, we're seeing a 50-year life span," Plumer reported. "These are big infrastructure projects. They're going to bring a lot of local jobs to the local economies."

Disclosure: The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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